Storage without moving parts?

Silencing hard drives, optical drives and other storage devices

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MoJo-chan
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Post by MoJo-chan » Sat May 07, 2005 9:39 am

Shining Arcanine wrote:http://channel9.msdn.com/

Ask there about what happens when you turn off the paging file. I did and if I recall several people (including one or two guys from Microsoft) wouldn't leave me alone until they got me to turn my paging file back on. When I did, performance seemed to improve; of course since you're using flash memory that doesn't matter as access times are the same regardless of where the data is located.

By the way, the paging file from Windows NT and swap file from Windows 9x are two different things. Please don't use the terms interchangeably.
Okay, i'll try not to mix them up. That site you mentioned seems interesting, there is a good debate if you search for "page file". Some interesting points. In particular, the post about Windows being overly agressive with swapping programs out to disk when not focused. That's what I mean about multi-tasking. With a page file and 1GB RAM, if I open Mozilla Firefox and The Bat!, if I work in The Bat for a while and the switch to Firefox, it had to load Firefox back in from disk again. This is despite the fact that there is over 750MB of free RAM. Worse still, it doesn't seem to load all of Firefox back in - if you click on a menu or another tab, that has to be paged back into memory again as well!

BTW, that's from a default install with a few services turned off. I have not used any of the registry paging hacks or otherwise adjusted VM usage.

Nice quote: "When you minize, Windows trims the working application's working set." That's madness.

Currently I'm running Firefox (four tabs), The Bat, Folding@Home, Trillian, Directory Opus and BNR3. 229MB in use, no page file. Everything is nice and responsive, no delays at all. Having a good RAID card probably helps a little, although 771MB for disk cache isn't exactly a small amount.

I'm not saying it's for everyone. 3DS Max probably wouldn't run, and I'm doubtful about Photoshop as well. But Paintshop Pro is fine, as are all my other apps, even if they use hundreds of megabytes of ram at a time. Joint Operations (game) seems okay as well. The microsoft guys were probably upset that their tech didn't seem to be all it was cacked up to be.

BTW, how does having the page file increase performance relative to access times? The page file does not store pages sequentially, at least not by design.

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Post by Shining Arcanine » Sat May 07, 2005 3:21 pm

MoJo-chan wrote:Okay, i'll try not to mix them up. That site you mentioned seems interesting, there is a good debate if you search for "page file". Some interesting points. In particular, the post about Windows being overly agressive with swapping programs out to disk when not focused. That's what I mean about multi-tasking. With a page file and 1GB RAM, if I open Mozilla Firefox and The Bat!, if I work in The Bat for a while and the switch to Firefox, it had to load Firefox back in from disk again. This is despite the fact that there is over 750MB of free RAM. Worse still, it doesn't seem to load all of Firefox back in - if you click on a menu or another tab, that has to be paged back into memory again as well!
I agree that Windows' memory management could use some work so that it more aggressively uses RAM in today's world of PC's with 1GB or more RAM but having things paged to programs isn't generally as good for performance as having them paged to a paging file.
MoJo-chan wrote:Nice quote: "When you minize, Windows trims the working application's working set." That's madness.
As I said, Windows' memory management could use some work so that it more aggressively uses RAM. From what I understand, they use more RAM in Longhorn (thanks to Longhorn's new read caching system).
MoJo-chan wrote:BTW, how does having the page file increase performance relative to access times? The page file does not store pages sequentially, at least not by design.
On a hard disk having things closer together (so they can be read more sequentially) helps with performance. Having things all of the place (as is the case without a paging file) doesn't help as much as having them close. The fact that they're close can help with performance. However, on flash memory, this doesn't matter as things are accessed at the same time regardless of where they are.

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Post by MoJo-chan » Sun May 08, 2005 2:58 am

Shining Arcanine wrote:...but having things paged to programs isn't generally as good for performance as having them paged to a paging file.

Having things all of the place (as is the case without a paging file) doesn't help as much as having them close.
These two ideas are both true, but I don't think they apply in this case. Firstly, I'm not entirely sure Windows does use program files for paging. Consider this: you can delete a program file once the program is running. Some programs update this way. If it were being used by the OS to page to, the file would be locked.

Also, Windows XP has some fairly good caching for program files, and DLLs in particular. Many programs spend more time loading DLLs than they do loading program code. The DLL cache helps speed this up. So, you get the benefit of sequential reads from closely packed blocks on your HD anyway.

As I say, RAID or flash memory with zero access time would make it unumportant anyway.

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Post by Shining Arcanine » Sun May 08, 2005 6:02 am

MoJo-chan wrote:
Shining Arcanine wrote:...but having things paged to programs isn't generally as good for performance as having them paged to a paging file.

Having things all of the place (as is the case without a paging file) doesn't help as much as having them close.
These two ideas are both true, but I don't think they apply in this case. Firstly, I'm not entirely sure Windows does use program files for paging. Consider this: you can delete a program file once the program is running. Some programs update this way. If it were being used by the OS to page to, the file would be locked.
Microsoft would be the one to ask as they wrote the OS and if I recall their employees state that Windows XP pages to the OS when the paging file is not in use so it does page. Whether or not it would be paging under x, y and z circumstances are yet to be foreseen.
MoJo-chan wrote:As I say, RAID or flash memory with zero access time would make it unumportant anyway.
RAID doesn't necessarily make access time consistent although flash does.

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Re: Storage without moving parts?

Post by Ducky » Tue May 17, 2005 11:06 am

Shining Arcanine wrote: The flash will wear out rather quickly. You'll have to get Microsoft to redesign Windows to store data exclusively in the RAM (meaning no paging) and drastically increase the minimum memory requirement (to something like 1GB of RAM) to significantly prolong the life of the flash memory.
Actually, Microsoft already has. It's only available in Windows XP embedded, though.

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Post by MassMan » Sun May 22, 2005 10:07 pm


ATWindsor
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Post by ATWindsor » Mon May 23, 2005 12:29 am

Shining Arcanine wrote:
Windows pages to the program files without a paging file just like Linux does without a swap partition. Hence why, it still pages without a paging file. If you want to eliminate this you'll need to setup a RAM disk for Windows to page to.
Hmm, abit of OT, but is this easy to do? Lets say you have 2 gigs of ram, how easy is it to just make a ramdisk of say 750 megs and make the pagefile go on that disk (and is this wise when it comes to performance?)

AtW

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Post by MoJo-chan » Mon May 23, 2005 9:50 am

ATWindsor wrote:Hmm, abit of OT, but is this easy to do? Lets say you have 2 gigs of ram, how easy is it to just make a ramdisk of say 750 megs and make the pagefile go on that disk (and is this wise when it comes to performance?)AtW
Why not just disable the page file? A RAM disk would perform worse than no page file anyway, simply because when memory was paged it would be copied from system RAM to the RAM disk, and back again. If you have 2GB, you don't need a page file anyway.

In fact, in Windows XP for 32bit machines, I think the limit on memory is 4GB (at least on Home and maybe Pro). That includes virtual memory, so if you have 3GB RAM your page file can't be more than 1GB. And yes, you guessed it, if you have 4GB RAM you can't have any page file at all. This is, AFAIK, the only way to not have a page file in Windows 2000.

I'll try it at work some time.

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Post by ATWindsor » Mon May 23, 2005 9:57 am

MoJo-chan wrote:
ATWindsor wrote:Hmm, abit of OT, but is this easy to do? Lets say you have 2 gigs of ram, how easy is it to just make a ramdisk of say 750 megs and make the pagefile go on that disk (and is this wise when it comes to performance?)AtW
Why not just disable the page file? A RAM disk would perform worse than no page file anyway, simply because when memory was paged it would be copied from system RAM to the RAM disk, and back again. If you have 2GB, you don't need a page file anyway.

In fact, in Windows XP for 32bit machines, I think the limit on memory is 4GB (at least on Home and maybe Pro). That includes virtual memory, so if you have 3GB RAM your page file can't be more than 1GB. And yes, you guessed it, if you have 4GB RAM you can't have any page file at all. This is, AFAIK, the only way to not have a page file in Windows 2000.

I'll try it at work some time.
Well, according to earlier posts here, the page-file cannot in reality be disabled. I also have heard som programs will handle an absent page-file poorly.

AtW

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Post by halcyon » Mon May 23, 2005 10:06 pm

Yes, the Samsung news is official:

http://www.eetimes.com/news/semi/showAr ... =163700050

The news don't yet reveal if it's the Samsung's interest to push this through their "consumer" computer parts unit.

If so, then the price must reflect reality and be low enough for people to afford.

Tom's Hardware's initial guess isn't too promising though:

"Samsung did not comment on the cost of a SSD drive, but considering current Flash pricing we would expect the 8 GByte drive to start be positioned in $500-600 price bracket and the 16 GByte unit to ring in at about $1200. "

Personally, I'm _very_ excited about this. 16GB is just enough for a system file and some main programs + a large swap + some windows temp file room.

I hope they ship it soon(ish) and the price is right. $500 is too expensive for me though.

Also hope that it performs on the par with initial info.

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Post by Pgh » Tue May 24, 2005 7:58 am

halcyon wrote: "...Samsung did not comment on the cost of a SSD drive, but considering current Flash pricing we would expect the 8 GByte drive to start be positioned in $500-600 price bracket and the 16 GByte unit to ring in at about $1200. "
Last I remember hearing, the BitMicro and M-Systems drives were around $1k/GB. If Tom's is right, then this would mean a reduction in price by more than a factor of ten.

I hope the Samsung drive's longevity and random read/write speed will be close to the BitMicro and M-Syetsms products.

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Post by Pgh » Tue May 24, 2005 8:18 am

I looked at the news article from Tom's and the product page at M-Systems. It looks like Tom's made a typo. He says M-Systems drives can transfer 320GB/s. But the product page for the Utra320 version of the M-Systems drive claims a burst rate of 320 MB/s. The sustained rates are 40 MB/s read and write. That is a lower sustained read and a higher sustained write than Samsung is claiming for their SSD.

Correct me if i'm wrong, but can't any Ultra320 drive with a cache claim a 320 MB/s burst rate?

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Post by BobDog » Tue May 24, 2005 11:23 am

sthayashi wrote:When I have the money, I'm gonna get me a drive from [Bitmicro].

They don't state a price and when I asked for a quote, it was.... a lot. More than what I could afford and I'm willing to pay for a lot here.

The price for something useful for even just programs was considerably more than what I paid for my car.
Yea, I saw those Bitmicro drives too. I was wondering how much they cost... so I guess I'm asking how much you paid for your car :D ! BTW, I ended up going with SimpleTech solid state HDDs... which were pricy but not TOO pricy.

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Post by Shining Arcanine » Tue May 24, 2005 3:15 pm

MoJo-chan wrote:
ATWindsor wrote:Hmm, abit of OT, but is this easy to do? Lets say you have 2 gigs of ram, how easy is it to just make a ramdisk of say 750 megs and make the pagefile go on that disk (and is this wise when it comes to performance?)AtW
Why not just disable the page file? A RAM disk would perform worse than no page file anyway, simply because when memory was paged it would be copied from system RAM to the RAM disk, and back again. If you have 2GB, you don't need a page file anyway.

In fact, in Windows XP for 32bit machines, I think the limit on memory is 4GB (at least on Home and maybe Pro). That includes virtual memory, so if you have 3GB RAM your page file can't be more than 1GB. And yes, you guessed it, if you have 4GB RAM you can't have any page file at all. This is, AFAIK, the only way to not have a page file in Windows 2000.

I'll try it at work some time.
4GB of RAM is the limit on physical memory. If I recall you can still have 4GB allocated to your paging file (perhaps more).

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Post by ~El~Jefe~ » Tue May 24, 2005 4:36 pm

I have been weighing this idea about 16 GBytes.

I guess this would work, but the gaming community would need a work around. 16 gigs of memory is just pricey to manufacture, I dont think we will see 40 gig drives anytime soon. If I were to bet money, I would guess that this will not be a viable option for many years to come. Disks are just so cheap to manufacture. Even portable media is simple. I just bought a HI-MD mini disk player that holds 1 gig of space on a small disk for under 6 dollars a disk when purchased individually. 16 of these is 96 dollars at the consumer/sonyripping me off, level.

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Post by Pauli » Tue May 24, 2005 4:51 pm

Solid-state just isn't attractive right now mo matter how you slice it. It doesn't make sense when quiet 2.5" notebook drives are available that are functionally as quiet as solid state and have much more storage capacity at a fraction of the cost.
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Post by Pgh » Tue May 24, 2005 5:35 pm

It's that true the price of current flash drives are outrageous. But one can only hope that Samsung's entry into this area is the first step in a market shift that eventually leads to reasonably affordable flash-based hard drives. LCDs used to have huge price premiums over equivalently sized CRTs, but it narrowed a great deal once momentum built in their favor.

If the longevity problems for flash hard drives have been solved, as BitMicro and others claim, then the only major drawback that remains is the godawful prices of the things.

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Post by metalac » Tue May 24, 2005 8:08 pm

Pauli wrote:Solid-state just isn't attractive right now mo matter how you slice it. It doesn't make sense when quiet 2.5" notebook drives are available that are functionally as quiet as solid state and have much more storage capacity at a fraction of the cost.
well you're forgeting the reason behind the solid-state drives. It's not noise or capacity, it's speed. That's what they were for always. I mean companies who make them really don't care that they are 0db, they care that they can be VERY fast, the fact that they are quite is a bonus. Plus people who need these drives usually use them for few hundred megs or a gig or so. Mostly for OS, swap and such. They don't store movies and music on, since there is really no need to grab your mp3s at 320mb/s.

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Post by Pgh » Tue May 24, 2005 8:35 pm

If you look at the specs for SSDs the sustained read and write speeds aren't really all that impressive compared to conventional drives. It's the "less than 20 µsec Access Time" number that absolutely crush conventional drives.

As I mentioned a few posts above, the 320 MB/s number you cite for SSD transfer rate seems to be a mistake made by the author of the THG article on the upcoming Samsung SSDs. It is the burst transfer rate for the Ultra320 SCSI version of flash drives, not the sustained read or write speed. M-Systems is claiming only 40MB/s sustained read or write for their SSDs.

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Post by ATWindsor » Tue May 24, 2005 10:09 pm

Pgh wrote:If you look at the specs for SSDs the sustained read and write speeds aren't really all that impressive compared to conventional drives. It's the "less than 20 µsec Access Time" number that absolutely crush conventional drives.

As I mentioned a few posts above, the 320 MB/s number you cite for SSD transfer rate seems to be a mistake made by the author of the THG article on the upcoming Samsung SSDs. It is the burst transfer rate for the Ultra320 SCSI version of flash drives, not the sustained read or write speed. M-Systems is claiming only 40MB/s sustained read or write for their SSDs.
Yeah, but for a system disk access is "all" that counts. It probably will be lightning fast for XP and programs. If they are cheap I'm considering getting one, installing XP and progs, and just have all other dics on a fileserver connect by gbit.

AtW

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Post by |Romeo| » Wed May 25, 2005 1:16 am

It seems to me that Samsung are not really pitching this at silence -they say that laptop battery life would increase by about 10% that's above 20 minutes on my tablet along with no spin up time when coming out of hibernation (and depending on what the transfer rate turns out to be, a faster boot). So despite not being able to store that many movies for travelling on it it still looks like a good bet for a laptop/tablet.

Also in this scenario, you throw the drive away in a few years when you buy a new laptop -so the sparing algorithms are able to hide the overwrite problems in that time frame.

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Post by ATWindsor » Wed May 25, 2005 1:25 am

|Romeo| wrote:It seems to me that Samsung are not really pitching this at silence -they say that laptop battery life would increase by about 10% that's above 20 minutes on my tablet along with no spin up time when coming out of hibernation (and depending on what the transfer rate turns out to be, a faster boot). So despite not being able to store that many movies for travelling on it it still looks like a good bet for a laptop/tablet.

Also in this scenario, you throw the drive away in a few years when you buy a new laptop -so the sparing algorithms are able to hide the overwrite problems in that time frame.
The fact that they are targeting "normal computers" is what I like, that means they might not be overly expensive. So they can brag about what they want, a flashdrive will be lightning-fast and silent.

AtW

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Post by Pauli » Wed May 25, 2005 6:29 am

metalac wrote:
Pauli wrote:Solid-state just isn't attractive right now mo matter how you slice it. It doesn't make sense when quiet 2.5" notebook drives are available that are functionally as quiet as solid state and have much more storage capacity at a fraction of the cost.
well you're forgeting the reason behind the solid-state drives. It's not noise or capacity, it's speed. That's what they were for always. I mean companies who make them really don't care that they are 0db, they care that they can be VERY fast, the fact that they are quite is a bonus. Plus people who need these drives usually use them for few hundred megs or a gig or so. Mostly for OS, swap and such. They don't store movies and music on, since there is really no need to grab your mp3s at 320mb/s.
You are correct, of course. However, my point still stands -- for 99.999% of desktop users, the price/performance/silence ratio just doesn't make sense right now. I'm no market expert here, but I don't see it becoming an attractive option in the foreseeable future.
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Post by ATWindsor » Wed May 25, 2005 7:15 am

Pauli wrote: You are correct, of course. However, my point still stands -- for 99.999% of desktop users, the price/performance/silence ratio just doesn't make sense right now. I'm no market expert here, but I don't see it becoming an attractive option in the foreseeable future.
It stands and falls on price IMHO, my hope is the fact that samsung starts with this makes the price go down a lot (solid-state-drives are already available from other manufacturers)

AtW

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Post by frostedflakes » Wed May 25, 2005 12:24 pm

16GB would be perfect for me. Would be enough to hold Windows XP, a swap file, and the few apps that I use often.

Then a traditional hard drive could be used for permanent storage/backup, but set to turn off after a couple minutes of inactivity (I think this can be done in Windows) to keep it quiet/silent.

Only problem is that I expect it to be expensive. I think it'll still be a couple years at least before solid-state storage is a reasonable option for most people.
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Post by Green Shoes » Wed May 25, 2005 2:36 pm

frostedflakes wrote:Only problem is that I expect it to be expensive. I think it'll still be a couple years at least before solid-state storage is a reasonable option for most people.
Isn't that the issue, though? By the time this technology is affordable, hard drives will be another two years advanced....and while HDD tech didn't change for a long time, we went from ATA 66 to ATA 100 to ATA 133 to SATA to SATA II in a span of what, three or four years? Things are speeding up. And with both holographic and perpendicular HDDs not too far off....by the time these things are affordable there might not be a market for them at all.

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Post by frostedflakes » Wed May 25, 2005 4:17 pm

Although bandwidth may have increased nearly fivefold, transfer rates will always be limited by how many times per minute we can spin the platters, or how fast we can move the mechanical heads. Solid-state components are limited only by the speed of light. Even the fastest mechanical hard drives are only able to sustain transfer rates of 60-70MB/s (?). Compare this to what we were capable of three or four years ago, which is probably ~20MB/s (?), and the improvement is much less impressive.
Last edited by frostedflakes on Wed May 25, 2005 4:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by Shining Arcanine » Wed May 25, 2005 4:20 pm

Pauli wrote:
metalac wrote:
Pauli wrote:Solid-state just isn't attractive right now mo matter how you slice it. It doesn't make sense when quiet 2.5" notebook drives are available that are functionally as quiet as solid state and have much more storage capacity at a fraction of the cost.
well you're forgeting the reason behind the solid-state drives. It's not noise or capacity, it's speed. That's what they were for always. I mean companies who make them really don't care that they are 0db, they care that they can be VERY fast, the fact that they are quite is a bonus. Plus people who need these drives usually use them for few hundred megs or a gig or so. Mostly for OS, swap and such. They don't store movies and music on, since there is really no need to grab your mp3s at 320mb/s.
You are correct, of course. However, my point still stands -- for 99.999% of desktop users, the price/performance/silence ratio just doesn't make sense right now. I'm no market expert here, but I don't see it becoming an attractive option in the foreseeable future.
Doesn't Intel make Flash RAM? NAND Flash memory is a market they should be able to jump into (especially with the current price premiums) and if they do we can expect a war between Samsung and Intel, which will drive down prices considerably. It is a bit of a long shot through.

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Post by ATWindsor » Wed May 25, 2005 10:02 pm

Green Shoes wrote:
frostedflakes wrote:Only problem is that I expect it to be expensive. I think it'll still be a couple years at least before solid-state storage is a reasonable option for most people.
Isn't that the issue, though? By the time this technology is affordable, hard drives will be another two years advanced....and while HDD tech didn't change for a long time, we went from ATA 66 to ATA 100 to ATA 133 to SATA to SATA II in a span of what, three or four years? Things are speeding up. And with both holographic and perpendicular HDDs not too far off....by the time these things are affordable there might not be a market for them at all.
The access-time of a flash-disk is less than 1%(?) of a HD, thats not going to change soon, unless HDs are made in a completly diffrent matter.

AtW

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Post by Spod » Sun May 29, 2005 12:21 am

Perpendicular recording will increase data density, which will improve HDD performance. More data per inch of track means better STR, more tracks per inch means typical seeks will be shorter and quicker. but even a 50% improvement in both wouldn't hold a candle to solid state storage.

The main limiting factor in storage performance is access time. Think about loading Windows - at the end of the day, you're just filling RAM with about 300 MB of programs, dlls and the like. In theory, at 60 MB/s, that would take about 5 seconds. Fair enough, some aspects are CPU and network limited, but the main thing is that the drive "wastes" a large proportion of its active time seeking between data and not actually transferring.
Apart from working with large files (e.g. video editing) where the drive can read lots of data without having to seek, a 50% reduction in seek times combined with a 50% reduction in STR will give better real world performance.

Hard drive improvements are slowing down. Look at how long it's taken to go from 80 GB/platter to 133 GB/platter - years. Holographic storage is still in the lab, MRAM is occasionally mentioned but few announcements of progress have been made, and it looks like flash RAM is the most likely candidate for solid state mass storage in the next few years.

It's well established, and it has the momentum to carry it forward - just like HDD makers don't want to abandon their investment and expertise in spinning magnetic disks, flash RAM makers want to make flash the next big thing, to preserve their investment and give them a future. And unlike most of the blue sky researchers in labs around the world, they have the money from their existing products to research the next generation.

All it needs is a couple of magnitudes better longevity, and the inevitable drop in price per GB, and you have your hard disk replacement.
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